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Employers in California face many challenges, one of which is ensuring that their employees have access to adequate parking. Therefore, it’s crucial for both employers and employees to stay informed about the state’s parking laws and their potential financial impact. 

In particular, businesses must determine whether or not they’re obligated to cover the costs of employee parking. If you have questions about your rights to parking coverage, speak with a San Diego employment lawyer today. 

Understanding Commuter Benefits

California has long been at the forefront of promoting sustainable commuting options, with numerous regulations in place to encourage the use of public transportation, carpooling, and other eco-friendly alternatives. 

As part of this effort, many California employers are required to offer commuter benefits to their employees under various regional programs. These benefits can include pre-tax deductions for transit passes, vanpooling assistance, or reimbursement for the costs of biking to work. 

However, it’s important to note that commuter benefit programs don’t specifically address employer-paid parking. While some businesses may voluntarily offer parking-related incentives as part of their benefits package, there isn’t a statewide requirement that mandates the provision of subsidized employee parking.

Navigating Local Jurisdictions

However, in some cases, local ordinances may influence an employer’s responsibility to provide parking for its employees.

That’s because some jurisdictions have certain zoning regulations in place – regulations that can impact an employer’s obligation to offer or pay for parking. Thus, it’s essential for businesses to familiarize themselves with the local legislation about parking.

For example, San Francisco has instituted strict limits on off-street parking spaces for new developments in certain areas. Local businesses should therefore review applicable zoning codes to determine any relevant restrictions that could pertain to employee parking.

Cost Reimbursement Guidelines

The California Labor Code outlines specific guidelines that employers must follow when it comes to reimbursing employees for work-related expenses or the costs incurred in the course of their employment. 

However, parking fees generally aren’t considered a standard expense that an employer has to reimburse. 

In situations where an employee must pay for parking as part of their assigned duties (e.g., for a meeting off-site or a business trip), reimbursement may be warranted in accordance with the labor code.

Basically, it’s important to remember that no section of the state’s labor law requires that employers provide parking for employees. While this amenity is a perk that is well worth considering, it’s not a legal requirement. This holds true in most cases, even when an employee is disabled.

While the Americans for Disabilities Act requires employers to offer benefits like parking, the company is not required to do so if it does not offer the same benefit to all of its employees.

Examples of Related State and Federal Rulings

Needless to say, paying for parking and related expenses can turn into a heated debate. For instance, the appellate court in California ruled, in 2006, that Disney Corporation was not required to pay for the time employees spent shuttling a mile from a parking lot to work.

Also, the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) removes the deduction once given to employers for subsidizing the costs of transit and parking costs for employees.

Needless to say, parking for employees can be expensive. If you’re paying for parking, you might ask your employer to check into offering discounts for mass transit or to consider incentives for carpooling.

The Bottom Line

In summary, California employers are not legally required to pay for employee parking under statewide laws. However, it’s essential for businesses to stay informed about local zoning regulations that could impact parking requirements and ordinances. 

If you have specific questions you need to ask, contact an employment lawyer to understand your rights with respect to pay, reimbursements, and employee-related expenses.

Additionally, employees should make sure that their employer is complying with California’s cost reimbursement guidelines and commuter benefit programs.

While navigating employee parking laws is indeed complex, understanding your responsibilities as an employer or employee is critical to fostering a competitively attractive working environment.

Contact an Employment Law Attorney Today

Do you have questions about your rights with respect to pay and reimbursements? If so, contact an employment law attorney now to learn more about your rights and responsibilities. In California, contact the Mara Law Firm for all the details and to schedule a consultation today.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney David Mara who has more than 20 years of legal experience in employment law.

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